On Wednesday in the House of Lords, John Sentamu was speaking during the discussion of St Georges Hospital: Patients Deaths. His words are below. Although he did not refer to the phrase of an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) he did refer to the reference of an independent police inquiry body and that I wonder whether the same thing is happening here in the context of the NHS. His call was following the very tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence and although he did not mention it, back in 1999 he was one of three people who advised William Macpherson in the inquiry for the murder of Stephen and the failure of the Metropolitan Police to deal with his murder. The title of their report which is available here is
“THE STEPHEN LAWRENCE INQUIRY – REPORT OF AN INQUIRY BY SIR WILLIAM MACPHERSON OF CLUNY – ADVISED BY TOM COOK, THE RIGHT REVEREND DR JOHN SENTAMU, DR RICHARD STONE”
I have never come across Richard Stone or Tom Cook but I have had the privilege of meeting John Sentamu and indeed since 2004 I have had the opportunity to be part of the IAG for two levels within Sussex Police. Indeed I have also been a Chair of the two IAGs. I have also had the privilege of meeting people who are members of other groups that are not referred to as IAG but which do involve groups of people who are independent and who provide advice to the Police. A few years ago we were approached by one of the County Councils in Sussex who were considering setting up something very similar. It would be very encouraging if the NHS along with the Government and many other public sector agencies were to take on board the proposal from William Macpherson whose statement included the proposal
First and foremost and fundamentally we believe that there must be a change so that there is genuine partnership between the police and all sections of the community. This cannot be achieved by the police alone. The onus is upon them to start the process. All other agencies, particularly those in the field of education and housing must be involved.
In addition the final proposal from the report which is number 70 states
That in creating strategies under the provisions of the Crime & Disorder Act or otherwise Police Services, local Government and relevant agencies should specifically consider implementing community and local initiatives aimed at promoting cultural diversity and addressing racism and the need for focused, consistent support for such initiatives
So perhaps one of the calls from John Sentamu (and William Macpherson) is for the NHS to establish an IAG that will help them to reflect on the elements which were being discussed on Wednesday which included this speech from John:
My Lords, the murder of Stephen Lawrence really caused a lot of trouble. The Met had a review and another review—and another review. The last person to do an apparently thorough review, Sir William Macpherson, turned up at the inquiry and said, “Your evidence is so awful we cannot listen to it any more.” Kent Constabulary carried out a review, but it did not uncover all the stuff that the Stephen Lawrence inquiry found. It was therefore suggested that there must be an independent police inquiry body so that the police are not marking their own homework. I wonder whether the same thing is happening here and whether this new independent review will uncover all that is required.